Last night was the only evening event of the World Congress of History Producers: cocktails at the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum, not far from 10 Downing Street. The director said that when the war ended they simply closed the doors of some rooms and left, but that others needed to be reconstructed. Itâ€™s quite a wonderful place, a warren of offices with maps pinned up everywhere. I especially lined the one with bits of colored wool (yarn) marking the German advances. It just needs some cigar smoke.
After the party I had an article to work on so I walked back to Holbornâ€”London on a Friday is crowded and it really wasn’t worth trying to get on a crowded bussâ€”and stopped at the Fryers Delight on Theobalds Road for haddock and chips and a cup of tea. This is another case of Memory Lane: I was taken to lunch there by one of my coworkers at Blackwells on my first summer job in London in 1979, and all these years later it looks exactly the same. But the staff seems to be Italian! That isnâ€™t such a surprise. Itâ€™s actually quite rare to hear English spoken on the bus or street in many parts of London, unless by an American or Australian.
I continued working on the article this morning, because it absolutely must be done by tomorrow morning and I needed Francesca, back in Massachusetts, to edit it. (She is a dream, not only a brilliant editor but willing to work on this kind of crazy schedule.) This oneâ€™s about the opportunities presented by developments in social mediaâ€”with more realism than youâ€™ll get from the Web 2.0 evangelists. I quickly grow to hate these shorthand termsâ€”Web 2.0 as well as tipping points and long tailsâ€”because they let people stop thinking. Itâ€™s comfortable, but the result is an orthodox mindset that reacts badly to questioning, or skepticism.
The article is for Upgrade, the magazine of the Software and Information Industry Association, and Iâ€™m writing a related piece for Against the Grain. One for the business world, another for librarians. Itâ€™ll be interesting to see how different they need to be.
Iâ€™ll be writing more about orthodoxy, and religion, tomorrow.